Coping with the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for all of us! Discover ways to cope during the holidays using DBT skills including: Cope Ahead, PLEASE and Effective Rethinking and Paired Relaxation by reading below!

Cope Ahead is such an important skill to prepare ahead of time for stressful situations. Read through the following instructions to prepare for, imagine and practice coping effectively with a stressful situation.

Most importantly, the DBT Center of Orange County wishes you a Peaceful and Joyful Holiday Season.

Cope Ahead:

  • Describe the situation that is likely to prompt problem behavior.
    • Check the facts. Be specific in describing the situation.
    • Name the emotions and actions likely to interfere with using your skills.
  • Decide what coping or problem-solving skills you want to use in the situation.
    • Be specific. Write out in detail how you will cope with the situation and with your emotions and action urges.
    • Examples: STOP, TIPP, Check the Facts, DEARMAN, etc.
  • Imagine the situation in your mind as vividly as possible.
    • Imagine yourself IN the situation NOW, not watching the situation.
    • OR Rehearse verbally step by step strategies that you will use.
  • Rehearse in your mind coping effectively.
    • Rehearse in your mind exactly what you can do to cope effectively.
    • Rehearse your actions, your thoughts, what you say, and how to say it.
    • Rehearse coping effectively with new problems that come up.
    • Rehearse coping effectively with our most feared catastrophe.
  • Practice relaxation after
    • Examples Include: Utilize self-soothe skills, practice paced breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.

Other skills to keep in mind over the holidays are: PLEASE & Pleasant Events.

 Reducing our vulnerability is so important, particularly when we are under a lot of stress!

Think of ways you plan to support yourself with the following:

  • Pleasant Activities/Events
    • Go to the movies, spend time with friends, be of service to others such as working at a soup kitchen.
  • Set Boundaries with Friends/Family
    • Ask for time or space if needed, do what you need to do to keep yourself grounded.
  • Balanced Eating
    • Eat meals regularly, drink water to hydrate, integrate healthy foods to keep your energy levels balanced (i.e. not too much sugar).
  • Avoid or Limit Mood Altering Substances
    • Alcohol and other drugs can increase our emotional vulnerability and cause greater risk for challenging emotions.
  • Get Balanced Sleep
    • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Avoid long naps that might interrupt your sleep schedule. Limit caffeine.
  • Get Natural Movement; Be Active
    • Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk on your lunch break, visit the park and walk around, catch up with a friend who is in town by getting coffee and walking together.

Email us at if you would like us to send you worksheets to better help you use these skills.